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What Is Skin Cancer?

Learn about skin cancer from board-certified dermatologist Ahmet Altiner in this Howcast video.


Skin cancer is abnormal proliferation of cells that make up the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. The majority of the cells are keratinocytes, but there are also melanocytes, merkel cells, and many other cells that make up the skin.

When these cells grow disproportionate to what they should be growing, they form bumps and lumps, and some of the time, these can form a skin cancer.

The majority of skin cancers we think about are grouped into two groups, melanoma, and non-melanoma.

Melanoma is the most notorious one because it can cause severe mortality or morbidity, unlike non-melanoma skin cancers which are much more common, but they tend to be slow growing and much easily treated without chemotherapy or radiation.

Skin cancers can present in all sorts of people. However, it's most commonly in Caucasian. It's important to realize though, African-Americans, Indians, and Asians can also get skin cancer.

Depending on the type of cells that we talk about, whether it's keratinocyte or melanocyte , skin cancer can form in front exposed areas like the face, the chest, the neck, but they can also form in unusual places like the nail bed, on your palms and soles, and in some cases, inside the eye, in the retina.

It's important to see a dermatologist if you've seen an unusual growth, a new growth, or a growth fast changing as this could be a sign of early skin cancer.

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